by Robert Wilkinson
Though not as well known as the bigger names in folk music, today we celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite singer-songwriters, the remarkable John Gorka.
This man could do voiceovers for the Angels, as his pipes resonate on some pretty amazing frequencies! The first time I heard him was on a Windham Hill Christmas CD almost 20 years ago, and his voice immediately got my attention. His music is haunting, beautiful, humorous, poignant, rowdy, and definitely genuine.
If you haven't heard him sing, you're in for a major treat. As a reviewer once wrote, "His piercing poetic lyrics are as arresting as his vocals... folk heaven." Once upon a time, Rolling Stone magazine called him "the preeminent male singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement."
I did a birthday celebration last year, and found there are quite a few videos out there. They mostly seem from a couple of concerts held in intimate venues, and I suspect one was from a show I attended in West Los Angeles at the ever-fabulous McCabe's Guitar Shop.
Anyway, prepare to enjoy yourself in concert with one of the great talents of our era! As usual, some require more time to buffer than others, but they're all worth the wait. If you want the video to open in a new tab, right click on the link.
Let's begin with one of my favorites, written in a somewhat grim stage of his life. Here's the title song from his 2nd CD, Land of the Bottom Line. Though the album features an amazingly powerful set of tracks, as he sez, it really doesn't have any happy songs on it. Still, it's truly a great album!
Here's an extraordinarily funny song, a wry take on aging: People My Age
As any one from New Jersey will agree, this song gets it all in a nutshell: I'm From New Jersey
My wife is a New Jersey Italian and loves this one! From "Land of the Bottom Line," Italian Girls
Combine a haunting voice singing a sad song, and you get a little piece of his genuineness (which is why so many love him!) Here are two sad ones and one fairly in your face, all from "Land of the Bottom Line" (I told you it's an amazing album!)
Another confessional from early in his career, a bit of a rocker:
Another early one, Jack's Crows
From "Writing in the Margins," the extraordinary title song: Writing In the Margins
Also from "Writing in the Margins," Chance of Rain
The title song of his new DVD (it's great!) Gypsy Life
Here's a great website courtesy of a big fan in Europe, John Gorka Videosite, with even more videos, interviews, concert listings, and a lot more.
His upcoming tour dates in August and September include stops in New Hampshire, Ontario, Wisconsin, Illinois, and New Jersey. October and November concerts are in New England, Alberta, Wisconsin, NY, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and several stops all over Northern California. I may even travel the 1200 miles to N. CA to catch him, he's THAT good! If you can catch a show, it's definitely worth the time and energy to make it happen!!
So happy and merry everything to you over the next year, John Gorka! You are truly one of the best, Mister Leo of great heart. May you have many, many more birthdays, happier times to come, and an ever increasing group of fans who love and appreciate you and your music. (And may your CDs and DVD sell at least several hundred thousand. Your works are masterpieces!)
© Copyright 2010 Robert Wilkinson